Industrial design students of the UAS Joanneum in Graz, Austria, engaged themselves intensively with the questions how pedelecs should look like in future and their market potential. Lecturer Lutz Kucher reports on the most pertinent questions investigated and a summary shows what the students created.
Pedelecs are fascinating things - if one allows them to be. Until now the technology has had only limited potential to excite. In turn, this helped very little to portray the fun factor of pedelecs and so turn them into widely accepted lifestyle products. This short-coming, together with the environment-responsible relevance of electric vehicles, were enough reason for the Industrial Design department at the University of Applied Science Joanneum in Graz to dedicate a study course to pedelecs.
The exciting question was how lifestyle-orientated and style-conscious people such as designers saw the topic. Which brand and market-strategic possibilities do they see in pedelecs? The starting point for the students of the seventh semester was to convince themselves that pedelecs were emotionally attractive enough to appeal to new potential target groups. The tools available to get new target groups to accept the pedelec, were design, brand and the adventure intensity factor. The task was formulated for the project teams with the tools in mind: Explore the theme and conceptualize a market-realistic pedelec brand with the accessories which fit to it.
To give the students a flying start in the world of pedelecs, lecturer Kucher convinced Hannes Neupert, president of ExtraEnergy, to present the first workshop in which students were given an overview of pedelecs in general, as well as a close-up look at the technology that drive them. However, the important part of the workshop was not the theory. As is so often the case, the practical experience was what counted most. To give the students some practical experience, Neupert brought about twenty pedelecs with him from Tanna, which the students test drove intensively. That's when the sparks flew over and lit the fire!
In the five workshop days which followed, the teams transplanted these experiences and impressions onto different brand approaches. The bandwidth of the resulting brands ranged from the very rational, all the way to the extremely emotional. However, they all had one claim in common, namely the claim that they'll survive on the market. To help them along that way, each brand was conceived with a specific target group and its needs in mind, a unique selling proposition, the right sales channels, and the related market position, in terms of performance, design and price.
Pedelecs reloaded 2009: Summary of the semester work (PDF download 3.5MB, German)
Copy: Lutz Kucher
Translation: Christoffel Volschenk
Grafic: Alex Pichler, Christoph Albiez, Richard Kastner
9 June 2009